Domestic Violence is No Less Serious When We’re in Quarantine
By now, the vast majority of Americans are stuck in place, under mandatory stay at home orders from their local and state governments. While we have a pandemic to contend with, as well as an uncertain financial future, a very real concern is starting to worsen – domestic violence and abuse. While we don’t have recent, concrete data on the rise in domestic violence-related cases, anecdotal evidence tells us that hotlines and shelters are receiving more abused individuals than ever before.
Why is domestic violence on the uptick?
For even the most stable of relationships, the dual strain of not being able to get out and the uncertainty surrounding the progression of the coronavirus in the United States can cause a great deal of stress. This can reveal existing fissures in a relationship or widen cracks that are already there. This is especially true for couples with a history of domestic friction or violence. While good times with low stress often lead to fewer incidents, unprecedented times such as the ones through which we are living have the opposite effect.
Why now is the time to get help
It can be particularly difficult to seek help during times such as these. Not only is our financial future less secure than ever before, but the full effect on our collective health due to this virus is not yet known. Many abused individuals are therefore scared into waiting to seek help. Further, victims of domestic violence and abuse may rationalize their partner’s behavior by saying that these times of extreme stress have brought out unusual actions that they otherwise would not have taken. As a side note, it is important to remember that even in the best of times, there are many reasons why victims of domestic abuse do not seek help, including being afraid for their lives, cultural reasons, embarrassment or shame, and many more.
However, domestic violence is traumatic, both for the individual being abused and for those around them, especially children. When there is seemingly no escape, this trauma can be magnified. As such, victims of domestic violence must take action.
A Plan of Action
Now is the time to seek help. As scary as it may be, having a safety plan is the first step in getting out of an abusive relationship and focusing on delivering yourself and your children from a dangerous situation. Whenever it is safe, it is important to call a domestic violence hotline. The professionals on the other end are well-versed in helping you create a safety plan to prepare you for getting out of the situation. The safety plan will include helping you create reasons to leave the house, how to handle children in the relationship and how to tell authorities, neighbors, family or friends that you need help amongst other important considerations. The safety plan can also give you the resources to minimize the physical and emotional damage on both yourself and your child as a result of a violent encounter.
The best time to create the plan is now. Even if the relationship is currently non-violent, but you feel threatened or believe that violence is possible in the future, knowing the best ways to de-escalate the situation, get out of a violent encounter, and ultimately end a violent relationship gives you the knowledge and resources to minimize the damage
Taking the next step
Domestic violence, whether a one-time event or a long-term part of your life, can have profound traumatic effects. Victims of domestic violence may benefit tremendously from mental health treatment – whether outpatient or inpatient. Some of the most common issues treated during the therapeutic process include:
Once you are safe and able, understand that you may need help. It is an important first step toward healing and being whole for yourself and those that depend on you. Finding a treatment center such as Mental Health Center that not only treats mental health issues, but also addresses co-occurring substance abuse disorders that are so prevalent in these traumatic situations. Acknowledging both can start you back on the path to a new life. If you or someone you know needs help with domestic violence, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They also have text and live chat capability for those who are unable to speak safely.